Tuesday, December 22, 2009

will there be answers????

Wow, I am having a hard time this morning...I have been ok all week...small moments of worry, but they fade quickly with the busyness. I slept fine last night until I woke up...no worries going to bed, but as soon as I woke up I knew I would not go back to sleep. I've been up for a while now...checking email, doing my FB thing and reading my bible. (I'd like to say I do this every day, but truly I rely on it in crisis these days.) I know that God is with me, I know that this is His plan and I know I can trust Him...but then the human side of me cracks. It's just a tiny crack...but it does not take much for doubt to seep in. It's like a disease at times...sucking me dry. Most times I can bury it and hold on to the Truth.

My worries are not that there will be a diagnosis today, my worries are that I will still be playing this waiting game at 5:00 tonight. That I will not have answers. I have a nasty cold right now...as I told my friend Mel last night, I'm working my Brenda Viccaro voice. I am not worried about the cold...I know that it must takes it course and I can plug along and it will be over soon. It is not the same with all this other "stuff", these other ailments, symptoms, annoyances, aggravations, pains etc...this is what I worry about. For a medical community to be able to rule out every other possible disease and condition and still not be able to give me answers boggles my mind. It gives me anxiety. It makes me depressed. It makes me mad, furious even. I feel captive by something I cannot name. It takes away my control...

Yes I know I am not the One in control...deep inside I know that, but between the numbness, tingling, pain and exhaustion it is sometimes hard to remember. Even before all this began (almost 2 years ago with symptoms and the past 7 months with doctors) I have been one who likes control. I like to be the authority. I like to be the one to decide. I like to be the one devising the plan. I like to be "the boss". My mom told me that if you want something done right you've got to do it yourself. Funny how some things stick with us from childhood. I am sure that was in response to something one of us did and did not do the way she wanted. I feel the same way with my household...it puts a lot of pressure on me, but at the same time when it is done, it is done the way I want it to be done. I am sure she did not mean EVERYTHING in life, but I am woman of extremes. All or nothing. I'm either in or out. I have trouble playing the middle. I am getting better about seeing the shades of gray...but even that is hard for me. I have no idea where I get this from and I do not know how to shake it.

So as I go about my morning with my kids bustling around, I pray that I try to go with the flow. I pray I do not try to control them because I cannot control what is going on with me. I pray I have patience, kindness and a loving voice. I pray I do not snap at James for something so tiny he feels assaulted. I pray I can make it through this morning at home, the drive to Durham and then the dreaded waiting room. I pray that whatever God's plan is that He will give me the comfort and solace I need. I pray that He will give me the answers I need and that His plan will be seen in open view today..wide open. I pray my pity party is over...even if it's just for a little while.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Most wonderful time of the year....

Life is so busy....I can remember when I was young and I would be waiting and waiting for Christmas to come. All the wonderful fun we would have...Gram and Gretchen (my great grandmother, also known a Nana) would be sleeping over on Christmas Eve and Donnie and I could not wait for that night to come. We would be so excited to see them and to sleep on the floor so they could have our beds. I have so many memories of those days that I cherish so dearly. It truly was "the most wonderful time of the year".

I can also remember my mom saying how she could not believe another year had passed and that Christmas was coming fast. Fast??? Was she crazy?? Maybe then, but not now. I find myself saying the same things about the holidays. Thanksgiving was late this year and all of a sudden here we are, 2 weeks before Christmas. The time does fly, at least for us parents...trying to make this the most magical and wonderful Christmas for our kids. This year I still feel that time is flying by and I feel in a bit of a whirlwind, but I have mentally taken a different approach. This year for me it is about giving back, giving thanks for my blessings and spending more time celebrating the season rather than rambling through preparing for the one big day. I took my time decorating the house. In years past I tried to get it all done in the weekend after Christmas, only to still be rushing to finish getting everything just perfect right up until Christmas day. I did go out shopping and am pretty much done. I was able to finish that up quickly this year. I am taking the less and more approach. Less "stuff" more time. I will have a special treat time with each girl this year. We will be doing some extra family things together this year as well (marching in the Holly Springs Christmas Parade and Disney on Ice (shhh it's a surprise!) for big things, but more family movies and game nights). I told the girls I wanted to be sure to give more than we got this year. We have decided to help a couple of local families that would otherwise not have gifts this year. We have done these things in the past with little recognition to the giving. This year there is more emphasis, more knowledge of how truly blessed we are.

As I am prepare my mind for the MRI tomorrow at Duke, I am also reminding myself to look around. Take deep breaths. Acknowledge how truly fortunate I am. I need to be honest and say that I am nervous and I am anxious. I want answers and I still may not get them. The journey is long (for which I am grateful) and instead of worry and concern I am forcing my mind to look at all the wonderful things around me. It's not the easiest thing for me to do...but I think it is helping me. I am going to do my best to lose myself in the season. To rest my worries on He who the season is for. I know deep in my heart that all will be right, in His time, not mine.

So as I try my best to enjoy each day with my family and friends, I encourage you to do the same. Forget the hustle and bustle. Forget the rush. Forget your worries. Remember that these are the times your children will look back on and remember. They will remember how they felt more than the gifts under the tree. They will remember that special touch, that special time where they had all the attention on them.

At least that is what I remember. I can remember Mom, Dad, Donnie & I decorating the tree (with Ivory soap) year after year. I can remember my dad waking up every Christmas morning and saying "Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas" in a deep "Santa" voice. I can remember the big dinners and family time with Nana, Gram, Pop & Mary, Helena & Carlty, Auntie Jo, Bucci and Phyl. I can remember my Gram and Nana spending time with us, playing games after dinner and sleeping over. And I will never forget the feeling of my Gram's hand rubbing my back at the dinner table or her calling me her "little chickadee". This is what I want for my girls to remember when they have their own children. The feeling of Christmas Spirit, how we share it with others, through a kind word, a soft touch and by sharing our own memories.

May God bless us all with memories old and new this Christmas season & may we be filled with joy in all the little moments that could so easily slip by if we are not looking for them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Racing Day

The ladies from Holly Springs!


November 9th was Racing Day in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which is 4 hours from Holly Springs, NC. You would have never known it, because the ladies of Holly Springs came to race. It was an amazing day. Perfect weather, beautiful course, friendly faces I truly could not have asked for a better experience. I felt FABULOUS throughout the race...it was hard towards the end and I had no idea how I was doing for time (my Garmin watch locked up on me at the starting line). James and the girls surprised me around mile 7 and that was a huge lift. The bridge was tough and I had to walk a bit up it, but that was the only time. The finish line was tucked away and I could not see it until I rounded a few corners.

Once I saw that I put every ounce of me into those final steps. There really is no other feeling quite like it...using every last ounce of your being, digging deeper inside yourself that you ever thought you could and giving it everything you've got. I was tired, I was weak, but damn I felt good. I did it. I did not give up, I did not give in. There were so many times that family, friends and doctors said "you need to rethink this", "you need to set a different goal", "are you really sure you want to do this?" They meant well...they were thinking of me physically, but I was thinking of me mentally. This experience is now in my emotional bank. I can withdraw from this anytime and the account will not dwindle. I struggled with why for so long. Why am I doing this? Why do I push myself? This is why...because I can.

"With each step you take you are farther from your starting point, closer to your goal and stronger than you were a moment ago"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Forty and Fabulous

Well, I am officially over 24 hours into my 40's. Yesterday was fabulous. The kids were great. We carved pumpkins and had a grand old time trying to get them to dig the guts out. They turned out great. Each one different from the other...just like the girls themselves. This is definitely going to become a Halloween day tradition. Then we got to the good part PRESENTS! Each girl picked out something for me all by themselves. Jackie's was first. A beautiful cinnamon scented candle with a wick that crackles like a fire. It smells wonderful and will remind me of her every time I light it. Jenna was next, she wanted me to have the game Sorry. I think there may be an underlying message here. The girl who can never say "sorry", buys me a game called Sorry... I think she's trying to tell me something :) Then Julia, she got me the Apple Scrabble game. She knows I love to play scrabble, bananagrams....any word making game. I love that they got games to play with me. Some special time for just us as a family. James came through big for this one. First some yummy chocolates, really there is NO occasion when these are not appropriate. Then the grand finale a beautiful, sparkling necklace by David Yurman. Simply elegant and just beautiful.

I was able to spend my afternoon on the back porch catching up on some long overdue me time. Reading magazines and actually thinking about how I want to decorate for Christmas this year. It's crazy where my mind goes when there is no interruption! Carmen was so sweet to stop by with the latest book by one of my favorite authors (True Blue by David Baldacci) and some sweets for my snacking pleasure. After a leisurely afternoon, I was treated to some delicious filet mignon from my dear friend Erin. James fired them up perfectly on the grill and served them up with garlic spinach and roasted rosemary potatoes. All topped off with a beautiful polka dot birthday cake that was picked out by my girl Julia. She told me she picked it because she knows I love polka dots. She didn't want to get me a Halloween cake (thank God!) because my birthday was separate from Halloween. So very sweet and thoughtful!

Dinner was finished off with a new song James wanted to share with me...Dave Matthews Band "You and Me Together". Let me tell you, my husband has a beautiful way of communicating his thoughts through music. I love ALL the songs he has ever "given" me. This one was perfect considering the rough year we have been having with my health. It so speaks to the core of us. As much as I loved all the presents given to me, this song was the best. If I had not received any other gifts, the day would have been just as perfect. Nothing is more valuable than having the one person you love so deeply, show you how much they love you back. Without any money spent this was thoughtfulness, love and comfort from his heart to mine. It's by far the best gift I could ask for.

Tonight I get to extend the birthday festivities with dinner out with some of my girlfriends. I will be going out with 9 lovely ladies who are all special to me in different ways. Each brings something different to my life. They have become my extended family, my support system. These past few months have been very difficult for me. I am thankful to God for bringing them all into my life and for putting people where He needed them to be to do to His work. They have all been my cheerleaders, my confidantes, my sounding boards, as well as strong shoulders to cry on. I am truly blessed.

I went to dictionary.com to see how they described fabulous. Here is what they say~
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: amazing, wonderful

Synonyms:

10, A-1, A-OK, aces, astonishing, astounding, awesome, best, breathtaking, cool*, doozie, extravagant, fab, fantastic, fictitious, first-class, greatest, groovy*, immense, inconceivable, incredible, legendary, marvelous, mind-blowing*, out-of-sight, out-of-this-world, outrageous, peachy*, phenomenal, primo, prodigious, rad, remarkable, spectacular, striking, stupendous, super, superb, terrific, top drawer, tops, turn-on, unbelievable, unreal, wicked*
I am so going to take on this word and challenge myself to add a splash of fabulous to each day. I am now truly Forty and Fabulous!

Monday, October 19, 2009

CRS disease

I am pretty sure I am not the only one with this condition. It's called "CRS" also known as "can't remember shit". I am not sure when it became full blown but it is certainly here now. I have three girls and I think that it may have started after the littlest one Jackie was born. I am not sure that there is any treatment or if one just suffers along with the embarrassment of it all.

In the past couple of weeks I have missed a few things because of this condition. I have left my kids at school (on more than one Wednesday afternoon) when they have had early dismissal only to have the school call and say "Mrs. Haskell? Your girls are here in the office" and for me to reply "yes, and why are they there?", office lady says "did you forget it was Wednesday?" to which my response each time is "Oh Shit!"

I was just cleaning off my desk to get ready to do some volunteer work on the computer. In the midst of the clutter I found a birthday invitation to a party that happened yesterday,
"Oh Shit!" It was for Jackie, who was all excited about a party for Benjamin at Marbles Museum in downtown Raleigh. We had a long discussion about it at the dinner table last week. Jenna told her how much fun it would be and how we should all go as a family during track out. Needless to say we did not make the party. I just emailed the mom a huge apology (I think I said sorry six times in three sentences!) I forgot to even RSVP, which is even more embarrassing, since that is such a pet peeve of mine!

Twice last week I forgot which week it was so when I told Julia what was on the lunch menu at school I told her the wrong meal was being served! I actually blamed it on the school both times until I went back to look the next day and had to tell her that I am living in the world of an overloaded mommy who cannot even tell which week it is. She now double checks my work (so sad!)..."Oh Shit!"

I had an invitation to a charity fundraiser for next weekend. We got it last month. The reply date was for October 1st. My husband reminded me after a run with one of the guys who put the fundraiser together. I told him I thought he must be mistaken, I had plenty of time to RSVP. Come to find out...I was wrong ...again..."Oh Shit!" Apologies sent yet again...thankfully we have not missed that one...yet!

I am on some medication to help with my exhaustion. One would think this would be something I could remember. Yeah, uhm, no it's not. I had my mom hear about a month ago. She put the timer on in the kitchen every day for me to remember. The timer would go off and she would have to remind me again to go and take it. ( I have to take it first thing in the morning and then at noon). She even put the pills in a plastic snack baggie and put them in my purse. (all but one are still there). Another "Oh Shit!".

Now these are just the things I can remember forgetting, who knows what else I have missed? I do keep a calendar on the fridge with most appointments etc. written down. It's just the issue of reading the correct week (simliar to the lunch menu). I keep "to do" lists as well. I am still working on a treatment plan. I have not given up hope for a cure, but for now I will just have to keep plugging along.

I have to say I am not proud of the fact that all three of my girls know how to use the phrase "Oh Shit!" in the correct context...I can only hope this disease is not hereditary!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"The devil is in the details"

Well here I am another day in the life of me. I had a great conversation with my mom this morning, although it was too short. After hung up I was thinking a lot about some of the things she said...which was not much in words as she was soaking up my ramblings without interruption.

For those of you who know me well you may describe me as a control freak. I can accept that and also know that some may see that as a positive characteristic, others a negative. I think it can be both. Right now I am realizing that sometimes the details in life are not so important. Without going into detail (no pun intended) I had a rough day yesterday. It was a heavy day in a lot of ways, the weather was cool, rainy and gray. By the time dinner came I was so looking forward to starting over I could not wait for bed. Julia was struggling with some homework and getting really frustrated. After some prodding I found out she had a rough day at school. Normally I would have hugged her and told her "chin up! Let's move on and plow through that homework...we HAVE to get it done, this is your responsibility...I know you don't want to do this but there are a lot of things I don't want to do that I have to so buck up little one and let's get this done" (now that all sounds cheery as I write it, but let me assure you my tone would not have been cheery. It would have been tired, cranky and harsh. I would have felt that this was one more thing I HAD to take on for the day, and really why is this ALWAYS falling on me??) Boy does this suck!"

Well thankfully I did not do what I would have always done. I took a deep breath and looked around. In a split second I saw a sink full of dirty dishes, reminding me that the dishwasher was full of clean ones. I saw the rubbermaid tub of things filled with luau supplies (the party was September 18th and it is now October 12th!!). These things are my "job". My things that I "have to do". I had slacked, decided I have been having a rough time of it and let some things go (consciously or unconsciously). In that split second it became so clear to me that the "details" didn't really matter right now. The world was not going to end (obviously) if the dishes did not get done or if that damn plastic bin stayed on the living room floor for a month. Why was I pushing her so hard to get it all done? Did it really matter if she did not get that homework done? Did it really matter if she got a "pink slip" in school? She is such a good girl. She works so hard and I just keep pushing her. I need a break...doesn't she need one too?

In that split second moment (that I had had so very many times before and made the wrong choice) I was finally able to make the right one. I gently took her homework away from her and said "you know what? It's ok. This is too much for you today. You do not NEED to do this." I told her "look at this pile of dishes. I am supposed to have emptied this already and the dirty ones should be in there. That is mommy's job. I just cannot do that today. It's just too much of an effort right now. Homework is too much for you to do right now. Let's just call it a day". We did just that. We got our jammies on and snuggled up. We watched some TV and just let the day slip away. Too many times I feel the need to control. I can get so caught up in the "role" that it all slips by. Stepping back, I realized that in the "Big Picture" dirty dishes and incomplete homework are not going to stop the world from spinning.

The details have been sucking me dry as of late. The prodding of all the little things I think must get done. The appointments kept, the meetings gone to, the plate that is already over flowing just keeps getting things added to it. Trying to please those all around me while leaving myself for last. Trying and failing to be what I think people want me to be. The dishes and homework, the daily grind of details, the lack of focus on the big picture. It's all been bleeding me dry.

My mom has always told me I always learn things the hard way. Many have told me time and again that the big picture is more important. Yesterday I realized it is. Now I won't say that I will remember that tomorrow, or next week. But I am thankful that I saw a glimpse of it yesterday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Every day is a different story

Every day is different from the last. Yesterday I felt like garbage for most of the morning. Humidity was high in Holly Springs and that combined with warmer temps wreaks havoc on my body. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who goes with the flow. Friday after looking at the weather I knew it would be difficult for me to run on Saturday. He stepped up and did his long run then and let me go today. (He is also in "training mode". He has a half marathon the week after mine in Raleigh.) He asked me who I was going with, I said "no one". A couple of friends invited me to run on Saturday, but even with good company I knew it was not going to be good for me.
My first few times running long by myself I was nervous. Wondering if I would be able to do it and not "quit". I have been pleasantly surprised. I woke up this morning, brewed my coffee and laced up my shoes. It was cool and crisp, an absolutely beautiful fall morning. Made the drive to the ATT (American Tobacco Trail) and started to run. I found today that I am enjoying the time by myself. My expectations for the run change with each step I take, each song on the MP3 player and each mile that I log. In the beginning I think oh, no this is so hard, why am I doing this? Then I get lost in my thoughts. When you do not have another person to talk to you can truly have a conversation with yourself.
I was able to get through the first 2 miles and then walked a water break. I've learned that I can stop and start again. Then on the second leg I felt more of a groove, coming up on the turn around point (4.5) I thought I should stop and take a break. I decided to see if I could make it to 5 miles. Before I knew it I was almost to six. I got lost in my thoughts and found my stride. I was able to keep a strong pace and not even realize it. When I had my water break at mile 6 I was amazed at how great I felt. I was hoping the last 3 miles would prove to be just as smooth. Overall they were. There were some spots where I thought, ok you are pushing too hard...and I slowed it down and then the song would change I would here the words pushing me along, and I was imagining myself actually running in the Outer Banks. I could see myself running in amongst all those who had trained just as hard. For me it was such a great visual, almost "outer body" It was all about this feeling I had inside me. I could see my girls at the end. I could see James cheering me on. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the support and love that these 4 people have given me. I actually started to tear up on the trail.
My thoughts went to how I wanted my girls to know that even when life deals you a hand and you are not sure what to do with it if you have faith in God, faith in yourself, and faith in your family you will make it through to the other side. The past 6 months have given me such strength to take another step towards my ultimate goal...raising 3 little girls who believe in the power of themselves. Who are strong in Spirit. Who rise to the challenge, whatever that may be.

Today I am thankful. I hope to be as thankful tomorrow, regardless of what the day brings me. My wonderful mom, who I know worries about me so, sent me an email this morning that I may make my new mantra. 'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better.
'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.' I am hoping to remember this in the rough times as well as the good like today. Thanks Momma!

Friday, October 9, 2009

wondering where this is all going

So I am wondering where this blog thing is going to take me. My brother asked me last night how it was going. I told him it wasn't. I have not "blogged" since the first day. I was so gung ho to take this on and then I was concerned about what I would write. I guess since it is all mine I really should not be so concerned.

I just got back from a 3 mile run. I am in "training mode" for my second half marathon which is coming up in 4 weeks. Last time I did this and I was 4 weeks out I was excited and really looking forward to it. This time I am unsure how I feel. I have been having such a hard time being consistent with my training.
Some of you may know that I am in the midst of being tested for MS. All things point to my medical issues being MS, but this is such a difficult disease to diagnose, it takes many months and sometimes years to get a firm diagnosis. I have daily symptoms of tingling in my arms and legs. I have back tightness and pain in my back (that could be considered the "MS hug"), I have headaches, neck pain and I have an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion all the time. On top of this I have trouble falling asleep and there are many nights that I wake up with insomnia and cannot get back to sleep for hours. The neurologist seems to be leaning towards MS. My MRI shows lesions on my brain, but not enough to conclusively diagnose it. I have had a spinal tap and evoked potential test which came back normal. I test positive for Babinski sign, which indicates neurological damage as well as having exaggerated reflexes in my legs and feet.

With no concrete answers I continue to try and manage my daily symptoms. I wonder if I am making the right decisions by pushing myself to complete this half marathon. I wonder if the people telling me to stop are right. What I do know is that I am a stubborn and determined person. I set a goal and I'll be damned if something undiagnosed is going to make me quit (did I mention that I could be just be plain stupid at times?). For some reason I have in my head this drive to push myself. This voice that says if you quit you lose. "Winners never quit and quitters never win", right? I struggle every day with giving in to it. To taking time to just sit and rest. I am not a rester...I am not one to sit still and just be.

Perhaps this is God's way to tell me to slow down. I have been having a lot of conversations with Him as of late, wondering what I am doing here and what He is trying to have me accomplish with all this. What is the greater goal, what is His plan? Sometimes I wonder "Why does He seem to let some struggle with so much on their plates and it seems others do not have much care in the world?" I know that all this will be used for a greater purpose, one that I may never even be aware of...but at times when I am low and overwhelmed and I cannot take another step without falling to pieces it is hard to remember where I get my strength from. I feel guilty about this and know that I need to put my trust in God and He will get me through this.
Is it a daily battle, sometimes, hourly and sometimes by the minute. I feel myself closing in and withdrawing. Wanting to hunker down to weather out the storm. I feel that I am not the mom I am supposed to be, not the wife I promised to be and not the friend I need to be. Then I lace up those sneakers, put on some music and go. I may have to stop and walk for a bit. I may have to walk the entire way. Some days I surprise myself and see that I am strong and run the entire way. What I hear in my head when I need to slow down is "don't stop", "you are a fighter", "just take another step, and then another". The music I listen to motivates me to take another step. I sometimes regret taking the run. When it is hot out all my symptoms are intensified. Monday I ran or shall I say I tried to run and I spent the entire afternoon and evening feeling awful...almost flu-like with my symptoms.

This is when I go back to the struggle...do I or don't I? Give in or push harder? I am an all or nothing person...there is no middle for me. As I continue to wait and search for answers I try to remember the following
"With each step you take, you are farther from your starting point, closer to your goal, and stronger than you were a moment ago"
to be continued....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My three girls



Fourth of July weekend in Myrtle Beach. It was a quick break between school years. Here in North Carolina, specifically Wake County, we attend a year round school where the girls go to school for 9 weeks and then have three weeks off. Julia is in fourth grade (9 years old), Jenna is in second grade(7 years old) and Jackie Rose is in her last year of preschool (5 years old).

blog name

MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES

I guess I should explain the name of my blog...the "she" would be me. The running is something I have a love/hate relationship with right now as I am training for a half marathon and dealing with some medical problems that don't let me run like I used to. The dream part would just be my ideal life.

Day one on the blog

Ok, so here I am in the new world of blogging. I have my brother to thank for this...so thank you Donnie. I am not quite sure how I will use this outlet. I know some in my life are worried that I will lose my privacy and I think others may be worried they may lose theirs. For the time being I think I will use this to find others who have similar stories, challenges and adventures as well as to keep in touch with family and friends who may like to know what is going on daily, weekly etc...with me and my family. I will be documenting my life as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, runner, volunteer, chef (a.k.a. short order cook to a family of five), gardener, avid reader and anything else that pops into my mind (changing names as I see fit to protect the identity of those who may not want their world on the world wide web) Hoping to add humor and entertainment to your daily grind as well as comfort in knowing you are not alone is this journey called life.